What We’re Reading: Medicare Late-Fee Warnings; Pfizer Sends COVID-19 Pills Globally; Judge Blocks Transgender Investigation

A bill to provide late-fee warnings to Medicare beneficiaries was introduced; Pfizer is expected to provide 10 million COVID-19 antiviral pills to low- and middle-income nations; a Texas judge halts an investigation into a 16-year-old girl receiving gender-affirming treatment.

Bill on Late-Fee Warnings for Medicare Beneficiaries

As reported by CNBC, a bill was introduced in Congress aimed at preventing Medicare beneficiaries from facing late-enrollment penalties by warning them in advance. The measure, introduced in the Senate, has bipartisan support and would require the federal government to provide information about Medicare enrollment rules before reaching out to Medicare-eligible people aged 65 years. Although many beneficiaries are automatically enrolled into Medicare programs because they are already receiving Social Security benefits, this is not true for those who continue to work later in life and delay receiving benefits. Late-enrollment penalties are related to beneficiaries who sign up for Part B plans and equate to 10% of the standard Part B premium for every 12 months that a person should have been enrolled but was not. The penalties are life-lasting and can increase annually.

Pfizer Offers 10 Million COVID-19 Pills to Low-Income Countries

Pfizer is expected to ship 10 million courses of its COVID-19 antiviral pill Paxlovid to low- and middle-income nations during 2022, according to a report from Reuters. The news was announced by the Global Fund, a health care nongovernmental organization working to purchase the pills. The organization said Pfizer could increase shipments beyond the agreed amount later if organizations involved show they are able to distribute the pills effectively. Most of the courses are intended to be available by the end of the year. It’s not clear whether financial support will be available globally to buy the pills and to fund the infrastructure needed to distribute the pills to communities.

Texas Judge Blocks Investigation Into Gender-Affirming Care

A Texas judge blocked Governor Abbott's call for the state to investigate parents of a 16-year-old transgender girl over gender-confirmation treatments, according to NPR. However, the judge did not prohibit the state from looking into reports about other children receiving similar care. The judge issued a temporary order halting the investigation. The governor’s order demanded the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate the parents, teachers, and physicians allowing transgender children to receive gender-affirming care as child abuse. District Judge Amy Clark Meachum, who blocked the investigation, said that the teen in question risked infringement of their constitutional rights.